I finished this book the other day. The author has also written Chocolat which I have not read yet, while the movie is one of my all time favorites. It will be interesting to read it and see how different it is from the book. Perhaps at this stage it is even unfair to offer an opinion on this book based on my Chocolat-the-movie expectations. I thought that perhaps this book would be like Chocolat, whimsical in nature but still dealing with the stuff that happens in every day life.
Every day life.... life is what happens when you are making plans, right? The movie Parenthood with Steve Martin had a good analogy about life. Near the end of the movie the Grandma is explaining to him and his wife how life is like a roller coaster. Steve's character thinks she is just senile while his wife truly understands what Grandma is talking about - thinks she is brilliant actually. It isn't until the school play that it makes sense to Steve's character.
My own life, and as I watch, the lives of my friends are just like the game of Chutes and Ladders. It seems financially to about all of us that just as you're about to make it to the tippy-top finish line you are dealt the spin that sends you packing all the way down down down to the beginning. Never mind the other stuff that comes with marriage and family, life and death. And you don't get to just lay there, crying about it - you pick yourself up and do it all over again. The fun parts are the rewards along the way as you make your way back up again.
Anywho, overall I liked Five Quarters of the Orange. I will read it again sometime down the road and most likely get something new and different out of it at that time. At times it made me tense: I didn't want to read further but I had to. It made me uncomfortable at spots because of what was occurring to/by the characters. The book, Like Chocolat is written in the prose of food. A number of the names are fruits like raspberry and peach, the mother's recollections are threaded through her cookbook, and the main character owns a restaurant. It is a rich book, with lots of textures and flavors woven throughout. It is not a bright and cheerful book, although there is resolution and hope in the end; I have a friend who is going on a vacation for a couple of weeks and I am not going to give it to her for her beach read, not light and fluffy enough for that kind of reading. I will give it to her when she gets back and let her choose a time to try it. And who knows, she may get something entirely different out of it than I did.
It's a keeper but won't be worn torn on my shelf.